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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Effortless Ironing Alternative

I have had a love hate relationship with ironing all my life. When I was a child, I used to watch my mother iron and thought it looked like fun. My aunt was the quintessential ironer. When she came to visit, she would spend hours on end at the ironing board, cheerfully tackling the most difficult challenges, like linen tablecloths and ruffled shirts. When she was done, even our bedsheets and underwear were perfectly pressed. When I was about eleven, I often volunteered to do the ironing. There was something Zen like and relaxing about this chore and I got great satisfaction out of seeing the fruits of my labor hanging starched and wrinkle free or folded into neat piles. Unfortunately, my early attraction to this domestic task faded. As an adult, I invariably suffered some unfortunate ironing mishap: either the iron setting was too hot or the steam would sputter all over a garment rather than come out in a fine continuous mist. I also had trouble getting shirt collars to lay perfectly flat or even worse, I ended up scorching a favorite blouse. Then a magical thing happened. I discovered garment steamers when I began working in retail sales. After looking at reviews of steamers on Consumer Report, I bought a lightweight hand held steamer called the Jiffy ESteam ( for about $60. Since then, my ironing experiences have been serene.

What is so great about clothing steamers? First of all you can easily store them in a linen closet and set them up in a flash. Just fill them with water, plug them in and you can steam any piece of clothing while it is still on the hanger. Steamers are gentler on fabrics (especially the delicates) and safer to use than irons (no more singeing another article of clothing again).  Steamers come in all sizes, from the heavy duty floor models to the tiny portable ones that you can tuck into a suitcase when you travel. To view photos and descriptions of  Good Housekeeping's seven highest rated steamers, go to


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